Shamanic Tools

Project Athena - Day 224 (Assignment: Shamanic Tools)


Shamanic mask making is an ancient art and in the multicultural tradition of which I am a student, it represents bringing out your spirit self or inner world into form. In the world of a shaman, transversing between the spirit world and the physical world is a great skill. The mask is just one of many tools used to achieve this.

Crafting a spirit mask of this persona has always been an extremely empowering process. It facilitates the practice of self-inquiry in an artistic and creative way. It also lets me see deeper into both the light and dark sides of this human ego. I find the process of mask making helps illuminate my deepest core values and the highest vision of who I am in the world. Calling on the energy of the true self, I can then translate these qualities into painting and adorning a mask of personal transformation. 

So as this week's theme comes to a conclusion, I have enjoyed sharing some of my favorite shamanic tools and creations. On the technical side, I have learned that I need a few more pieces of equipment to achieve the photos I envision. I also have a much greater appreciation for the art of staging. I have also learned that I really like the way nature stages things and I am yearning to be outside shooting again. Come on warm weather.

Shamanic Masks    Nikon D3200 • Nikon 55-200mm lens • 60mm • F/22 • 1/6s • ISO 200

Shamanic Masks

Nikon D3200 • Nikon 55-200mm lens • 60mm • F/22 • 1/6s • ISO 200

Project Athena - Day 223 (Assignment: Shamanic Tools)

Medicine Wheel as a Map

This is not one of my most inspired photographs to date but I wanted to share one of the most important tools I use in my shamanic path, the Medicine Wheel.  The Medicine Wheel is a map for understanding our place in the Universe and our relationship and connectedness to all things. The Wheel divides our world into different directions and applies specific meaning and significance to each direction, depending on cultural tradition. This directional orientation is achieved by simple observation of the natural world. The Medicine Wheel is an outer expression of the cycles of Creation, cycles of life, cycles of the planet, the Universe, even cycles of the soul. My multicultural version of the Medicine Wheel is made up of 6 directions. Every direction is an ally with an energy and essence that can be called upon to assist in the journey through life. I personally will be calling on the direction of the North tonight as this body is ready for some relaxation.

Call in the East When You Need Support With

  • Illumination / Enlightenment
  • Awakening the Chi
  • Awakening personal growth and light within
  • Giving birth to an idea or project
  • Seeing something in a new light, as a child
  • Clarity about any life circumstance, experience

Call in the South When You Need Support With:

  • Opening your heart
  • Grounding yourself and connecting to earth
  • Self-Nurturing and acceptance of nurturing
  • Emotional support
  • Growing abundance
  • The blooming of our relationships

Call in the West When You Need Support With:

  • Transition
  • Understanding life's patterns
  • Connecting to the wisdom of our ancestors
  • Gratitude and enjoying the fruits of your labors
  • Harvesting the fullness of your talents
  • Pruning away the baggage of your life
  • Letting go of things that are no longer needed, composting, recycling

Call in the North When You Need Support With:

  • Taking time to rest, play and regeneration
  • Deep sleep at night
  • Going inward, self reflection
  • Remembering your dreams and hearing  your inner voice
  • connecting with community, friends, family, beloveds
  • Effortless action

Call in Father Sky (Pachatata to Peruvian Tribes) When you Need Support With:

  • Complementary and co-creative energy to that of Mother Earth
  • Getting into sync with the heavenly cycles such as cycles of the moon
  • Asking for nurturing of our Divine Mother with the rain, the sunlight, the clouds, the moonlight or what ever is needed in your environment
  • Remembering you are the God Spark, the Higher Self, the I Am Presence
  • Living your true potential

Call in Mother Earth (Pachamama to Peruvian Tribes) When you Need Support With:

  • Connecting to the Divine Mother Goddess in the physical world
  • Gratitude for the miracle of life
  • Connecting to fertility, abundance, bounty, and all of your life giving forces
  • Walking in right relationship with others, the planet and the path of harmony
  • Moving through the cycles of  life from birth to death, to rebirth
  • Connecting to the elemental energies of water, air and fire in the world
  • Caring for your body
  • Offering and receiving unconditional love, support and stability
  • Recycling limiting beliefs

Project Athena - Day 222 (Assignment: Shamanic Tools)

What's in Your Medicine Bag?

In 1991 the body of a prehistoric man was discovered frozen solid high in a mountain range and with him was his medicine bag.  That's someone who lived over 5,000 years ago carrying one of these magical little pouches known to most cultures. They contain objects such as leaves, feathers, stones, crystals, bones, teeth, herbs, sage, beads and other spiritually significant objects which have been selected by or gifted to the wearer. I wear my home made medicine bags when I go on nature walks for both protection and also as a means of communicating with nature that I come in peace and am one with all.

Who's in Your Medicine Bag"

Nikon D3200 • Nikon 18-55mm lens • 34mm • F/5 • 1/6s • ISO 100

Project Athena - Day 221 (Assignment: Shamanic Tools)


Ok. So photographing smoke is a little harder than I thought it would be. In fact, this week is turning into a very technically challenging week as I push the limits of my equipment, make shift studio and knowledge about staging product shots.

On the flip side, I am enjoying the process of sharing these powerful tools and some of the things I have learned over the years on my shamanic path.

Smoke is by far the most potent tool for me. It cleans, clears and protects EVERYTHING (except babies)  because it can go EVERYWHERE. Whether the smoke is wisping from sacred tobacco, sage, palo santo (holy wood), or incense, a shaman will imbue the source with prayers for health and protection before laying it on the person or object they are working with.

A Potent Clearing Tool

Nikon D3200 • Nikon 18-55mm lens • 50mm • F/5.6 • 1/30s • ISO 400

Project Athena - Day 220 (Assignment: Shamanic Tools)


There is nothing like being on a walk in nature and finding a handsome, unblemished feather that has been gifted by a winged animal. Feathers are some of the most special gifts of the natural world. Whether they are from a wild turkey, a bird of prey, or colorful feathers from tropical birds, they all bring magic into the world.  I mostly use mine as fans for smudging or cleaning and purifying my work space, objects, and myself.

Feathers  Nikon D3200 • Nikon 18-55mm lens • 30mm • F/5.6 • 1/10s • ISO 100


Nikon D3200 • Nikon 18-55mm lens • 30mm • F/5.6 • 1/10s • ISO 100

Project Athena - Day 219 (Assignment: Shamanic Tools)

Ceremonial Rattles

There literally hundreds of styles of ceremonial rattles used by Shamans around the world. Some can be quite ornate but most are made with materials native to an indigenous people's home. In many traditions, rattles are magical instruments whose noise is believed to call in the primitive essence of an animal or plant spirit. The can also be played in a shamanic journey, used in ceremonial dances or rattled to invite the spirits of the directions into a medicine wheel.

I never leave home without my rattles...that is if I am going to a ceremony.

Ceremonial Rattles

Nikon D3200 • Nikon 18-55mm lens • 20mm • F/4.5 • 1/13s • ISO 100

Project Athena - Day 218 (Assignment: Shamanic Tools)

A Shaman's Tools

This week I I am the client and the photographer as I have given myself an assignment/challenge to shoot the tools I have made over the last seven years as part of my shamanic journey. I am not a shamanic practitioner but I incorporate these powerful healing and clearing tools in my daily life and when appropriate, I use them with my coaching clients.

I've started with the ceremonial drum because this is my favorite tool. I made both of these drums from kits using elk hides. These drums were made with deep reverence and gratitude for the animals and trees that came from great creator. Each drum has a unique voice depending on its size and the unique characteristics of the animal hide. Of course, humidity and tautness also affect the sound. In this Colorado climate, it's imperative to keep the hide oiled to prevent it from drying and cracking as well as protect the quality of the deep resonant sound.

The best time to use a drum is ANYTIME! Got the blues? Drum. Feeling confused or disoriented? Drum. Wanting a deeper heart connection? Drum. Need to clear out some low vibrational energy in your home or body? Drum. Wanting to shift a habitual thought that is keeping you stuck? Drum. And drumming with others is magical experience as each individual drum becomes one powerful voice and a certain reminder of the connection between all things.

I hope you enjoy this journey with me as I teach myself some things about staging and blocking. My intention with this theme is advance my skills in the area of "product shots" while sharing some really cool tools with you.

Ceremonial Drums

Nikon D3200 • Nikon 18-55mm lens • 32mm • F/7.1 • 1/4s • ISO 100